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April 5, 2024

Worcester’s Latin American Health Alliance to split $3M for substance-use work

Two men in black shirts with the a small logo "Café Reyes" logo handle plates of food in the café kitchen  Photo I Edd Cote Café Reyes in Worcester was set up with the Hector Reyes House to provide employment for Latino men in recovery.

Worcester nonprofit Latin American Health Alliance is one of 20 BIPOC-led organizations receiving $2.9 million in grants from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to help fund efforts to address substance use in their communities disproportionately affected by increases in overdose. 

The grants, which each total up to $145,000 over a 17-month period, are the first to be financed through the DPH’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services’s new Redefining Community Wellness program, according to a Thursday press release from the Gov. Maura Healey Administration. The program awards funds to nonprofits led by Black, Indigenous, people of color committed to addressing substance-use disorder, focusing on systemic social, economic, and environmental factors making individuals more vulnerable to substance misuse.  

LAHA’s mission is to identify and address the significant health disparities existing for Latinos living in Greater Worcester, advocate for the Latino community, research and respond to important social issues affecting Worcester’s Latino population, and implement initiatives and programs addressing identified service gaps, according to the organization’s website.

The nonprofit offers bilingual and bicultural residential substance-use treatment, transitional recovery homes, and a job training program for its residents and graduates at its mission-based Cuban restaurant, Café Reyes in Worcester. 

“We recognize the disturbing reality that Black, Indigenous, and people of color have inadequate access to substance use programs and are disproportionately affected by policies that do not respond to, or consider their specific needs,” Deirdre Calvert, DPH’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services Director, said in the release. “We launched the Redefining Community Wellness grants program to address this challenge and to support a wide variety of community-led programming.”

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